The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) – the unified and recognized voice of seaports in the Americas – has selected U.S. Congressman and House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) Subcommittee Ranking Member Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL) as 2019’s “Port Person of the Year” for his stalwart advocacy of the port industry.
“In his more than 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Díaz-Balart has consistently championed legislation to benefit our nation’s ports,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and CEO. “Through both words and deeds, he’s demonstrated a keen understanding of how ports play a central role in driving our nation’s economy and creating good American jobs.”
Rep. Díaz-Balart, who also co-chairs the Florida Ports Caucus, is now serving his ninth term representing Florida’s 25th Congressional District. In the fiscal 2019 T-HUD appropriations bill, he negotiated language which resulted in nearly $293 million in first-ever funding being appropriated for the Port Infrastructure Development Program within the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration. The program’s goal is to fund infrastructure improvements that enhance U.S. port competitiveness and the ability of coastal seaports to effectively handle the movement of goods in America’s supply chain, which are used by U.S. manufacturers, farmers and consumers.
“This recognition is well deserved,” said PortMiami Director and CEO Juan M. Kuryla, PPM®. “Having engaged with PortMiami and numerous other ports over the years through his position on the Florida Ports Caucus, Rep. Díaz-Balart has consistently heard the need for dedicated funding for port projects. His first-hand knowledge of ports has a direct influence on his work in Congress, where he will continue to fight for dedicated port project funding and for legislation that benefits the port industry.”
Mr. Kuryla added that Rep. Díaz-Balart, through his leadership on the House Appropriations Committee, “is having a direct influence on updating and modernizing port infrastructure, and he continues to be a vocal advocate for the port industry.”
AAPA will present Rep. Díaz-Balart his 2019 “Port Person” award at a time and place to be announced soon.
Each year, AAPA presents its Port Person of the Year award to an individual or individuals who have made significant contributions to the port industry. Recent award recipients include: U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) – 2018; U.S. Rep. Steve Scalice (R-LA) – 2017; U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) – 2016; U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Lic. Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa, General Coordinator of Mexican Ports and Merchant Marine – 2015; U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) – 2014; U.S. Reps. Janice Hahn (D-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX) – 2013; U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-FL) – 2012; U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) – 2011; Adm. Thad W. Allen, Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard and The Honourable David L. Emerson, P.C., former Minister of Industry, International Trade and Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada – 2010.